A Florida man had an unfortunate accident Tuesday night, and ended up being a suspect.
According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, deputies responded to several calls about a person in distress in a Lakeland creek around 8:30 p.m. The low temperature in Lakeland that night was 38 degrees, according to Accuweather.
The man, later identified as Dillard Hamilton of Auburndale, could be heard by people in the woods nearby screaming for help, according to the sheriff’s office.
Using the assistance of a PCSO drone and helicopter, deputies located the 52-year-old man, who was chest-deep in the frigid water, clinging to a tree.
“Hamilton was shivering, moving very slowly, and appeared confused as deputies rescued him from the water,” the sheriff’s office said.
The man told deputies that he had been walking in the woods when he got lost and fell into the water.
Polk County Fire Rescue crews evaluated Hamilton, clocking his body temperature at 84 degrees. He was taken to a nearby hospital for hypothermia.
While there, Hamilton became “uncooperative” with medical staff, refused treatment, and was released.
A short time later, deputies discovered Hamilton had outstanding warrants for burglary, grand theft motor vehicle and grand theft.
He was promptly arrested and taken to the Sheriff’s Processing Center in Winter Haven.
“Deputies did a fantastic job with this rescue, and despite the conditions, they were able to locate Hamilton and pull him to safety rather quickly,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. “Given his condition, they probably got to him just in time. We are also looking into why he was out there in the first place. He has a history of burglaries and thefts, so that is being investigated.”